About the Costa Mesa Historical Society
The Costa Mesa Historical Society was formed in 1966 as a support group for the newly restored Diego Sepulveda Adobe. The stated purpose of the new organization was “to promote and preserve the natural, civil, literal and ecclesiastical history of the Harbor area in general and the City of Costa Mesa in particular.” Society members collected period furnishings for the Adobe and served as tour guides. Soon other projects were added — collecting historical photographs, presenting speakers on local history topics, establishing a library and archives for collected books, maps and personal papers. In 1979 the Society organized a SAAAB Wing to include those who played a part in the activities of the Santa Ana Army Air Base during World War II.
Today, the Society holds a collection of 70,000 items ranging in age from pre-historic times through current times. The collection is in the process of being catalogued in a computer database. Monthly meetings are held featuring speakers on topics of interest. Society docents lead tours of our Museum and the Diego Sepulveda Adobe. Our library and archive materials are available to researchers, local organizations and people curious about any aspect of local history. The Society collaborates with local government and other groups to produce children’s and other historical books and pamphlets. And fine art prints of our historic photographs adorn area homes, offices and retail businesses.
The Costa Mesa Historical Society is an all-volunteer group incorporated in the State of California as a non-profit organization having 501(c)3 status.
Behind the Scenes
On a typical day, our museum at 1870 Anaheim Avenue buzzes with activities from managing a small business office, to clipping newspapers for our local history subjects file, to identifying people and places in photographs, to keeping membership information up to date, to producing two newsletters (the Cadet and the Fairview Register) to cleaning and preserving objects in the collection, to researching and answering patron questions that come by mail, e-mail, phone and in person, to transcribing oral history interviews, to dusting the exhibits, to cataloging library books, to conducting tours of the museum, to inputting information into our museum database, to keeping records of donated historical items, to preserving, boxing and shelving historic items, to planning and creating new exhibits, to finding speakers for public meetings, and more.
Members of our organization may become officers or board members, attend board meetings and decide on the policy and activities of the Society. But in addition to the “work”, there is a great deal of fun. Volunteers brown-bag and gather in the kitchen for conversation at lunchtimes. One or twice a year we have a volunteer potluck dinner. There is also satisfaction as volunteers assist visitors, learn new skills, or teach a skill to someone else. And there is the excitement of discovering new facts about our city.